Off-the-Grid Power Solutions


Mobile computers, smart phones and satellite phones can keep you in touch with civilization even when you’re far from it. Unfortunately, their batteries need regular charging, which is usually impossible when you’re off the grid and there’s nowhere to plug in. Fortunately, you have a few options when it comes to bringing power into the wild.

The easiest way to charge mobile devices when there’s no AC outlet around is to use a generator. Honda’s EU1000i is a tiny, quiet generator that weighs less than 29 pounds. It’s rated for 900 watts continuous at 120 volts and 8.3 amps. You couldn’t power a full-size refrigerator or heater with such a small generator, but you could charge just about anything, power a few lights, a notebook computer or maybe a TV set.

Another alternative is to use something like Xantrex’s XPower Powerpack 1500. It’s a big 12-volt battery cart that you charge before leaving the creature comforts of town. It has two 120-volt outputs and a 12-volt output, and it can power mobile equipment for many, many hours. It’s powerful enough to run drills, saws, blenders and coffee makers. You can even jump-start a car with it. But it weighs about 60 pounds, making it too heavy for anything but a road trip. B&H doesn’t sell generators or battery carts, but it really doesn’t matter because it would be highly impractical to hike into the wilderness carrying something that bulky and heavy.

If you can’t bring a big battery cart with you in the field, you can always bring several smaller ones. B&H carries replacement and high-capacity battery packs for netbooks, notebooks, cameras and camcorders; you’ll have to look elsewhere for battery packs for cell phones. You could bring as many of these into the field as you can afford to buy and carry.

But a more versatile solution is to use an Energizer Energi To Go Power Pack. The Energi To Go Power Packs are battery packs that you charge at home and bring with you into the field to power or recharge mobile computers, smart phones, cameras and other devices.

Intended for netbooks and other small mobile devices, the Energizer Energi To Go XP8000 is an 8000 mAh rechargeable battery pack that can give netbooks up to eight extra hours of run time. The XP8000 can output from 5 to 20 volts DC at 2000 mA. If you need more power, say for a full-size notebook computer, the Energizer Energi To Go XP18000 Power Pack is an 18000 mAh battery pack that can give full-size notebooks up to six extra hours of run time. The XP18000 can output 5 to 20 volts DC at 3500 mA. The Energi To Go Power Packs come with assorted cords and adapter tips, making them compatible with just about any mobile device out there. They take about four hours to charge.

Tekkeon’s myPower ALL Universal Rechargeable Battery is designed to power a notebook computer, MP3 player, portable DVD player, cell phone or other portable device. It can supply up to 19 volts DC, and it comes with adapter tips that fit just about any power jack you might encounter. A button is used to select the proper voltage for a given device and a lock prevents the output voltage from changing while a device is connected.